WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK
Leeds LS1 3AX
tel/fax: 0113 245 4786 / 250 8353
26 JUNE 2001
The Western Sahara Campaign UK believes that the UN Security Council will today reject proposals by the UN Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, former US secretary of state James A Baker III, stopping the Saharawi people from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination and independence. Campaign sources suggest that several members of the Security Council members are vehemently opposed to any plan which attempts to remove this right.
His proposals, a weak form of autonomy, have already been rejected by the Polisario Front. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo yesterday, the Saharawi President, Mohamed Abdelaziz viewed them as a "declaration of war."
The proposals, which originated in Morocco, are so far from what is acceptable to Security Council members, that Baker may be forced to resign. Not only will Baker take the blame for failing to organise a comparatively simple referendum for less than a 100, 000 people; he will be forever identified for siding with the brutal Moroccan regime who have been occupying Western Sahara for nearly 26 years. According to Campaign sources in Western Sahara, say the Saharawi people, most of whom live in refugee camps in Algeria, feel betrayed by his volte-face.
The new Framework Proposals are contained in Annex 1 of the latest Secretary General's report on Western Sahara (S-2001-613) of 20 June 2001. Hundreds of pages of the agreed UN Settlement Plan for a referendum on the independence of Western Sahara, is turned by Baker into a one and half page document with most limited substance and no guarantees.
Under the proposals, Morocco would hold exclusive competence over areas of statehood, foreign relations, national security, and external defence while the "population" of Western Sahara will have control of secondary matters including housing, fishing, local government administration and the like. This same "population" will have control through an Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The Executive will be elected by a vote of those individuals who have been elected and qualified to vote by the UN Identification Commission, it has no named powers. This is the 86, 000 voters eligible to vote under the current Settlement Plan for independence. In his report, Kofi Annan suggests that this body would comprise many Polisario people, pro independence. Unfortunately the Executive appears to have little power. According to the proposals, power rests with the Assembly who will make the laws. The Assembly will be elected not only the Saharawi people, but the hundreds of thousands of Moroccan settlers and troops who illegally occupy Western Sahara. These people have been occupying Western Sahara since long before the October 1998 deadline. Such an Assembly would obviously be skewed to the Moroccan Government. A National Institute of Judicial Studies will select the judiciary, the guarantors of any legislation. This legislation must in any case conform to the Moroccan Constitution.
After four years the Executive will be elected, not by the roistered Saharawi voters, but by the whole population of Western Sahara. Consequently, any Assembly and Executive together could then abolish the Framework Agreement and the semblance of any vote on the independence of the territory. It is obvious to the Campaign that a Moroccan sponsored Assembly and Executive would vote to abolish this proposed agreement.
Finally, the proposed agreement states that a referendum on the sovereignty of Western Sahara should take place within five years. However, anybody who has lived in Western Sahara for a year prior to this vote will participate. I am sure that we do not need to point out that this proposal makes a mockery of international law. Under such circumstances, Morocco would certainly organise another Green March to ensure victory.
It would be very sad if after 10 years of involvement in Western Sahara, seeking to implement a free and fair referendum on self-determination, the UN's peace process should lead to confirmation of the fait accompli of Moroccan occupation. Forcing the integration of Western Sahara with Morocco is not only a betrayal of the Saharawi people but a flagrant violation by UN to its own commitment to decolonisation of the territory.
Contact : Richard Stanforth WESTERN SAHARA CAMPAIGN UK Tel: +44 (0) 113 245 4786/ 250 8353 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org